When the Republican convention finally began on Tuesday, a day late, it did not have the glitz of Democratic stagecraft. But then, the GOP was going for a different image. The subliminal message was that the Republicans will rely on their solid experience and extensive credentials instead of pompous staging and flashy fireworks. It was clear from the outset that the Republicans were focusing on mainstream America. It was also clear that the Republicans first had to pierce through the day’s major distractions — one a natural disaster and the other a media-manufactured frenzy over a teenage pregnancy accompanied, astoundingly, by feminists coming out of forced retirement to carp about whether conservative women can balance family and career.
Hurricane Gustav took mercy on the U.S. and did not wreak the havoc that was expected. The convention’s opening night theme of “service” linked seamlessly to the efforts underway in the Gulf Coast region of the U.S. to protect life and minimize property damage. The absence from the convention platform of the five Republican governors of the states affected by the hurricane lent dramatic emphasis to the containment efforts — and nobody could miss the fact that, this time around in contrast to Hurricane Katrina, preparations were top-notch. The net result was a plus for the GOP in terms of the natural disaster’s political impact.
The media-made hurricane related to Bristol Palin’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy was not so easily overcome. The mainstream media has joined the blogs in trying to make a political scandal out of the Palin family’s personal problems. Much of the evening’s proceedings were ignored as the pundits rehashed the details of the teen’s situation — again and again — and tried to make a soap opera out of her mistake. It was clearly over-the-top sensationalism designed to promote the Democratic candidate. Attempts to blame Bristol’s mother marked the lowest day-long moment of media punditry. Surely there is a tipping point when such distortions and character assassination will spill back on the vicious souls who dish it out. But today’s Huffington Post goes at it again, spreading distortions when the facts clearly establish that they are pushing lies.